This is the week of CPAC - the big conservative conference that often marks the start of the presidential primary season for Republicans. Most of the front-running candidates show up to show off their wares.
Usually, this conference is controlled by the social conservatives and there’s lots of rah rah patriotism, God, and anti-gay rhetoric.
This year was different. First, there was the big news that GOProud, a gay conservative organization, had been invited to attend. This caused the social conservatives to go into conniptions, and threaten to boycott. They thought they had enough clout to shut down GOProud and keep them out. They didn’t. Instead, they marginalized themselves.
Then Sarah Palin came out in support of GOProud, fracturing the ‘base’ even more.
Andrew Brietbart, one of the big movers in conservative politics, then announced that he was going to throw a ‘big gay party’ for GOProud during the convention. And he did, and it was apparently THE party to be at.
Yesterday, one of the front-runners for the nomination, Mitch Daniels (and my personal favorite) gave his speech in which he called for a moratorium on social issues, a toning down of the heated rhetoric, and a focus on fiscal issues that could build a big tent coalition strong enough to push through serious reform to entitlements and spending.
This speech was apparently one of the most well-received speeches at CPAC this year.
I’ve been saying this for a while, but this is yet more evidence that the conservative wing in America is becoming younger, more libertarian and less socially conservative. There’s definitely a ‘rift’ on the right, but it looks to me like the good guys are winning.
Did any of you follow events at CPAC? Do you think this marks a fundamental change in Republican politics? Are we seeing the slow death of the old Jerry-Falwell style southern religious conservatism as its leaders and rank and file grow older and start dying off?